While I share P91's pessimism about Middlebrooks, OCD hits the nail on the head -- following P91's logic would lead to a Red Sox club that looked a lot like the 1980s MFY, with young prospects consistently shipped out for "proven" veterans. That's no way to run a franchise. And while some minor benefits might accrue to the Sox by having, say, David Ortiz finish his career in Boston, if followed across the board P91's approach would ensure that the next generation of Pedroias, Lesters, et al. would be shipped out of here long before they even established themselves as major leaguers, let alone became icons.
I would love to see WMB go to Chicago as the centerpiece of a Matt Garza trade, but it's clear the club's financial position doesn't permit that kind of move. The next best option is to hang on to WMB and hope he proves me wrong.
You should know better than to think I'm proposing a one size fits all rule of thumb. The problem with Middlebrooks is that he's a low walk, high strikeout prospect. More of them fail than succeed. While he has been somewhat better than the failed prospects I've mentioned in the thread, he is difference in degree from Hillenbrand, Stenson, and even Wilton Veras, not a difference in type. He's on an improving trajectory, which means I am far, far from writing him off, but no, you can't replace Youkilis with a rookie, and you especially can't do that in the same year you're planning on handing shortstop to a guy who has yet to prove he's a better hitter than Mark Belanger.
In contrast, I was more than happy to have Pedroia and Lowrie -- good on-base guys all through the minors -- and Ellsbury -- no walks but also consistent contact -- break in. In addition to having both patience and contact skills, Pedroia was replacing Mark Loretta near the bottom of an already stacked lineup with a capable part-timer behind him in Alex Cora and so failure was an acceptable option (I don't remember beating a drum to send Pedroia down all while he struggled, I may posted in frustration once or twice though; however, mostly I thought Francona handled that situation perfectly by lightly platooning with Cora until Pedroia got comfortable). Similarly, Lowrie was replacing a trio of expensive suck that had manned the position in previous seasons and was backed up by the more-than-capable Scutaro. Ellsbury was being blocked by a very similar player with far less upside in Crisp and essentially served as a heavily used fourth outfielder his first year, also a perfect way to break in.
To reiterate and sum up, Middlebrooks would be replacing the Red Sox cleanup hitter who, while aging, would still be in the back-end of what should be his prime (which I consider 27 to 34) and if he failed to produce the only remaining option would be to make a trade or play a light hitting utility infielder at 3B full time. At the same time as the Red Sox would be taking this risk, there are many who feel they should also hand shortstop to Jose Iglesias, who had one of the worst offensive seasons by a regular in the history of the Pawtucket Red Sox in 2011.
Edited by Plympton91, 21 January 2012 - 10:05 AM.